Not many people in the world get to see their childhood hobbies turned into careers. For those who do, it’s even rarer for passion and career to come into complete alignment. Dennis Ray of Nature’s Creations (leafpin.com), a jewelry artist whose love for nature has inspired every piece in his collection, is one of the lucky few.
“I was a high school kid who was an Eagle Scout with the biggest chemistry set on my block,” says Ray, whose tinkering for a high school science project turned into a lifelong development of electroforming, a metal forming process that allows Ray to preserve the natural samplings he collects.
“There’s every part of the cycle of life within nature,” says Ray. “There’s the budding tree or the fragile leaf when it’s young and then it grows to maturity and then into a decay period. Each one of them are fantastic bookmarks in art-meets-nature-meets science. I’m actually able to freeze frame one of those moments, almost like catching and covering a snowflake with metal. It’s just a fleeting moment.”
Ray initially set out to be a geologist and studied at the University of Utah. But, a D-minus average forced him back home.
“My father’s always said I came back to Maryland to fall back into the leaves,” says Ray. “That forced me to take a hobby and turn it into a viable art form and a living. It’s been 30-plus years. It’s been amazing.”
Ray, who now lives in Washington, D.C., with his husband of 20 years, spends much of his time traveling the nation and world for samplings he can turn into unique art.
If you go
5th Annual Charlotte
Fine Art & Craft Show
Charlotte Convention Center
501 S. College St.
Admission is $10 for all
Ticket purchases can be made online at
“We’re lucky to have very free spirits,” says Ray. “We travel to all different places of the world. We’re basically outside of the country for three months out of every year collecting botanical samples and just seeing the world.”
Ray’s travels will bring him to Charlotte, May 10-12, for the 5th Annual Charlotte Fine Art Show. The show, juried by art professionals, features high-quality art from craftspeople from the Carolinas and around the nation and world. It will be hosted at the Charlotte Convention Center. qnotes is a sponsor.
While here, Ray will showcase his many works. Among his favorite creations are his ginkgo leaf jewelry pieces.
“They are the oldest trees on the earth,” he says. “They have fantastic stories. The ginkgo has such a rich history. It’s a fossil tree and it has so many stories that cut across all demographics of every age, every geographic locations.”
Whether he’s at an art show in Seattle or Atlanta, Ray says, people flock to the ginkgo.
“It always brings a smile to people’s faces,” says Ray. “People remember their fist leaf collection in high school. It’s just really cool. It’s a neat event to think something you learned in high school or maybe you learned of ginkgo leaves as a kid, it always comes to a story with a smile on people’s faces.”
Ray is looking forward to his trip to Charlotte, where he’s expecting plenty of smiles
“I’m super happy to be back on this level in Charlotte,” Ray says.
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